Every day in the approach to Christmas, we’ll speak to winners from the recent finals of IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Margot Cronin CDir, non-executive director at HSBC Life (UK), Nazareth Care Charitable Trust, Prudential International Assurance and Tesco Underwriting, who won the Chartered Director category
Cronin’s award is for scoring the best exam total of all this year’s qualifying Chartered Directors. She has spent much of career with Aviva, working in Asia and North America before moving to its group CEO office in London. After serving as CEO of Aviva Hong Kong, she moved on in 2014 to build a portfolio of non-executive roles.
What has been the most pivotal moment of your career? “Working in Aviva’s international division back in 2000 under the leadership of Cees Schrauwers – a great mentor and also a champion of integrity. It taught me the importance of focusing not only on what needs to be done but also on the way you do it. How you treat people along the way really matters.”
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? “That was probably my move to the US with Aviva to take up my first C-suite position. I had to adapt to a new environment very quickly. My father died during that time, so it was also a period of bereavement. My response was to throw myself wholeheartedly into my work and the task of integrating myself locally.”
What’s the key to great leadership? “Great listening skills, humility and a willingness to get out of the way and let your team get on with it.”
What advice would you give less experienced business leaders about navigating turbulent times? “Focus on the things you can do something about.”
Whom do you turn to for guidance? “I’m lucky to have a large network of former colleagues who have become friends, so I have access to great sounding boards if I should need them.